Prepare for Transmission: Space:1999 Comes To Blu-ray
Space:1999 Is Here
When it comes to television, there is SSF — serious science fiction — and then there is SFE — science fun entertainment. The first strives to be accurate to an unknown future while the second strives to entertain the audience without an overrun dance of concern for reality. SPACE: 1999 falls more into this second category, but that’s not a bad thing. The brainchild of Gary Anderson, he of the Thunderbirds puppetry and miniatures and physical effects fame, put together a “world” that the viewer (young preferred) could escape into — after all the show came out in 1975 so 1999 was like the edge of the universe. The story is simple: a nuclear explosion on Moon Base Alpha — the moon having been tamed — shifts the rock out of orbit and send its on its way through the stars. Of course this peeves and aggravates those inhabiting the moon base, but what is life without hardship and adventure? Especially when the gravitas of such actors as Marin Landau and Barbara Bain head an all-star cast. Viewers knew that their 19” color tv was going to get quite a workout before an episode would end — that you can believe.
So both seasons — the entire series — is now available to own in a Blu-ray box set appropriately titled SPACE:1999: The Complete Series (there’s also a special limited edition featuring a snow globe with the Eagle Transporter). And compared to shows like Star Trek The Next Generation, most of those outside of the humans were far from friendly. And aggressive, you betcha! Plus FYI -- those Eagles must have been really easy to rebuild from parts because they got whacked pretty frequently.
1999 As Envisioned In 1975
Space:1999 might seem a bit camp today, although it was played straight and certainly didn’t bring on the ridiculousness of the Batman TV show. It was a quality performance both from the actors as well as the special effects — which were plentiful and didn’t rely on computers since those days were decades away. Instead you got the physical effects inherent in models and miniatures and it’s here where Anderson’s history with such things excelled. It all looked cool and very, very sci-if (yes those small TV screens didn’t hurt in protecting mistakes and visual errors).
Now this was back in the days when a normal TV show’s season was 22 or more episodes and not 13 or 10 or even less — here we get 24 for season 1 and 24 for season 2, totaling 48 in all. It’s the quality of the series that brings out what Blu-ray can do. Images are sharp and clear, with strong contrast and a decided lack of ghosting and “snow”. All this plays to the strength of a good transfer from the original material to disc. The audio also has been updated — while monophonic is the standard and highlights voice, a 5.1 surround sound creation is done as well (the main advantage here is that some of the effects are now enhanced). Of course the original series was in the “box” version (1.33:1), and while it could have been reworked into a widescreen, this is not done and so maintains the integrity of the series. As does the decision to number/place the episodes in the same order as they were presented (being that the actual order of the episodes is a bit “confused” to put it mildly).
A Moon Full of Bonus Features
The amount of bonus features staggers the imagination more so than even the most outrageous space adventure. First there are 6 new features: an interview with Barbara Bain and with actor Nick Tate, as well as with director Kevin Connor. Add to that audio commentaries on 3 episodes and the Space:1999 fan will feel joyous. But that’s just the start as then there’s audio commentaries from creator Anderson, interviews with actresses from the show, featurettes on the special effects, behind the scenes and vintage interviews among others. Want more? Add TV promotional materials and commercials, trailers and photo galleries and a 6 page episode guide (i.e., paper) and there’s plenty to keep the viewer occupied (much of this added material has been seen before, but as they say “if you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you). So prepare for visual transmission of the episodes and prepare to see the future..